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Jofra Archer will miss England's tour of Sri Lanka and this year's Indian Premier League after scans revealed a stress fracture in his elbow.
Archer was troubled by problems with his right elbow during the recent Test tour of South Africa, which England won 3-1. He missed the second and third Tests as a result and was then ruled out of the fourth on match-day morning when he suffered a recurrence of pain in the area while bowling during the warm-up.
He was withdrawn from the T20 squad due to play three fixtures in South Africa next week and returned to England for scans, which the ECB said on Thursday had "confirmed that Archer has suffered a low-grade stress fracture".
"As a result of the injury, he has been ruled out of England's Test tour of Sri Lanka and the Indian Premier League 2020 season," the ECB added in a statement. "He will now commence an injury rehabilitation programme with the ECB medical team with a view to be ready for the international summer campaign starting in June against West Indies in a three-match Test series."
In an upbeat post on Twitter, Archer vowed to return to action "soon".
England travel to Sri Lanka to play two Tests next month and it is not just his national team who are set to feel the impact of Archer's absence. Rajasthan Royals, with whom Archer was due to be reunited for the IPL beginning in late March, made a brief statement on Twitter, saying they were still optimistic about Archer returning this season.
"We're working with the ECB to help @JofraArcher secure a speedy recovery, and still hope to see him in a Royals jersey this season," the club said.
Archer was bought by the Royals in the 2018 auction for INR 7.6 crore (US $1.125 million) and proved he was worth every penny as he became their go-to bowler.
Despite never having played in Indian conditions before his IPL debut, Archer made use of his height and his variations to dominate batsmen during the Powerplay and at the death. Last IPL, his economy rate of 4.75 in the Powerplay was the second-best in the tournament among bowlers to send down at least 30 deliveries in the Powerplay.
Archer's economy rate in the Powerplay for the two seasons he has played for the Royals was 6.52. Bowling at the death, Archer's overall economy rate was 8.73 and he bagged 14 wickets.
In 2019, Archer had to leave the tournament after 11 matches to report for the England duty ahead of the World Cup. He signed off in style, hitting a four and six with the Royals needing nine runs in the final over to win at Kolkata Knight Riders.
The Royals have Andrew Tye, Tom Curran and Oshane Thomas in their squad along with an Indian contingent lead by Jaydev Unadkat, Ankit Rajpoot and Kartik Tyagi, who is currently performing well at the Under 19 World Cup.
To cover for Archer, they would need to look for a replacement from the final registered pool of players that the IPL shortlisted during the auction. Among the quicks who went unsold were: Sean Abbott (Australia), Alzarri Joseph and Kesrick Williams (West Indies), Mustafizur Rahman (Bangladesh), Mark Wood (England), Adam Milne (New Zealand).
Rob Cassell, Rajasthan's newly appointed bowling coach, admitted that a player of Archer's expertise would be hard to replace, but backed the rest of the squad to fill the void.
"It's not easy to replace a guy who nails his yorkers and has express pace," Cassell told ESPNcricinfo, "but we have other options. AJ Tye steered the Scorchers unit with his death experience and his nous with his yorkers and slower balls, and Tom Curran had an excellent Big Bash. Akash Singh and Kartik Tyagi have been impressive at the Under-19 World Cup, and Oshane Thomas has been strong in the Caribbean too. It's a well-balanced list, so we'll have to get our heads together and formulate how we fill Jofra's absence.
"A stress fracture of the elbow isn't something I've heard of too many times, but hopefully Jofra can get back on the park as soon as possible, and you never know he might be back and fit towards the back end of it. We'll keep our fingers crossed."